In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Because of the financial crisis, many of my friends are having a hard time finding jobs. Some of these friends are young, privileged, and well-adjusted, and their job troubles are the first sustained message of rejection they’ve ever received. Perhaps the exposure of previously sheltered people to rejection is actually one of the crisis’s silver linings: a firm, nonnegotiable “No” is, I think, the most important and accurate message the world can give us.

Human beings are felicitously adapted to our world: we require precisely the kind of food that grows in the earth, we yearn for love and can find like-minded others, and so on. If we are unusually lucky—gifted with intelligence and an environment that rewards it, or with high cheekbones and a flat stomach at a time when those traits signify beauty—we might enjoy immense acceptance for a very long time, with scarcely a “no” message in sight. We might even start to think that fulfillment of our wishes is the law of the land.

This is emphatically not the case. We may fit smoothly into most circumstances, but that is no guarantee that the world will continue to provide those circumstances. (In fact, the guarantee is precisely the opposite.) Rejection is the message that, despite our best efforts, the world is not in the business of providing what we want. In that sense, it is the fundamental message of reality. Sadly, it’s also painful, especially if we persist in viewing it as something out of the ordinary.


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